The 10 Most Famous Volleyball Players on Earth
Roles models are important.
And fortunately for all the volleyball-fanatics reading this website, there are many famous volleyball players for young athletes to look up to.
In this blog post, we’re celebrating all their hard work by putting together a list of the top 10 (in no particular order) most famous volleyball players on Earth.
Something to note before we start...
One of the most beautiful aspects of the game of volleyball, which you’ll see in this list, is the fact that the sport popularizes women equally to men.
This is a rare trait for a sport, and we are happy to say that volleyball is truly a sport for all people.
Let’s get started...
1. Kerri Walsh Jennings
Beach Volleyball – United States – Born 15 August 1978
Kerri Walsh, a native Californian, was excelling on the volleyball court well before her prolific beach career and Olympic stardom.
She played high school volleyball and led her teams to state championships in the early 1990s.
As Walsh dominated on the volleyball court, she became hotly pursued by American Universities.
She received the very first Gatorade National High School Volleyball Player of the Year and was the overall number one volleyball recruit in the USA.
Kerri Walsh took her talents to Stanford University, a school known for its volleyball dominance and impressive academics.
Walsh led her collegiate program to four conference titles and two NCAA national championships.
After college, Kerri Walsh briefly appeared on the 2000 USA Volleyball team before she decided to head outdoors and partner with our number two most famous volleyball player on Earth: Misty May-Treanor.
This duo would go on an unbelievable run of success on the AVP and FIVB World Tour. They would win well over 100 tournaments and three Olympic Gold medals.
Kerri Walsh became Kerri Walsh Jennings in 2005 after marrying fellow successful volleyball athlete Casey Jennings.
- NCAA Champion (1996, 1997)
- Olympic Gold (2004, 2008, and 2012)
- World Champion (2003, 2005, 2007)
2. Misty May-Treanor
Beach Volleyball – United States – Born 30 July 1970
Misty May-Treanor is a native Californian, like so many other successful American volleyball players.
She started on her successful track early, leading her high school team to state championships in 1992 and 1994. In 1994, she was chosen by USA Today as the best high-school female volleyball player.
May dominated in college from the setter position.
She won countless individual awards while attending Long Beach State and led her team to an NCAA Championship win in 1998. That year, her team went 36-0 and she won a share of the NCAA Championship Most Outstanding Player award.
Misty May had a very short career with the USA Women’s Volleyball Team after leaving college but found her true passion while playing on the AVP and FIVB World Tours.
Most volleyball players associate Misty May with her longtime partner Kerri Walsh Jennings...
However, May started out playing with Holly McPeak. The May and McPeak duo was successful but could not quite achieve a medal in the 2000 Summer Olympics.
After that season, May found her ideal partner in Kerri Walsh. With May playing impeccable defense behind the formidable blocks of Walsh, the duo was virtually unstoppable for nearly a decade.
Her accolades were virtually the same as those of Kerri Walsh Jennings listed above.
These two are likely the most well-recognized pair to have ever played the game.
- NCAA Player of the Year (1997, 1998)
- NCAA Champion (1998)
- Olympic Gold (2004, 2008, and 2012)
- World Champion (2003, 2005, 2007)
3. Charles Kiraly (Karch)
Indoor Volleyball, Beach Volleyball – United States – Born 3 November 1960
I bet you could guess what American state Charles “Karch” Kiraly is from!
Maybe there is something to the quality of volleyball on the west coast of the United States.
Karch Kiraly literally grew up with a volleyball in his hands, starting at age six and entering a beach volleyball tournament with his dad (a former Hungarian Junior National Team member) at age 11.
Kiraly would go on to lead his high school team to a state championship in his final year.
Like many high-caliber players of his time, Charles Kiraly stayed on the west coast and attended UCLA in California for university.
He was a major factor in UCLA’s dominance during his time at the school, winning NCAA Championships in three of his four seasons (they made the finals his sophomore year but lost).
Karch would go on to have an illustrious beach volleyball career but started on the international level as an indoor player.
He would win two Olympic gold medals with the USA National Team before entering as a beach player the first year beach volleyball was considered an Olympic sport (1996).
He won the very first Olympic gold medal awarded for men’s beach volleyball.
Kiraly would win nearly 150 beach tournaments before moving on as a volleyball broadcaster and then coaching the USA Women’s National Team.
- NCAA Champion (1979, 1981, 1982)
- Olympic Gold (1984, 1988, 1996 [Beach])
- World Champion (1986)
4. Regla Torres Herrera
Indoor Volleyball – Cuba – Born 12 February 1975
Torres dominated at an early age, winning her first Olympic gold as a 17-year-old middle blocker for the Cuban National Team.
The Cuban team maintained dominance as Regla led them to three straight Summer Olympics gold medals.
Regla Torres would retire quite early for a volleyball player at age 30.
From there, she was a well-regarded coach, commentator, and ambassador for the sport of women’s volleyball.
- Olympic Gold (1992, 1996, 2000)
- World Champion (1994, 1998)
- FIVB World Cup Gold (1989, 1991, 1995)
- FIVB Best Player of the 20th Century (2001)
5. Lorenzo Bernardi
Indoor Volleyball – Italy – Born 11 August 1968
Lorenzo Bernardi was born in Italy and has played setter, outside hitter, and defensive specialist during his 23-year career.
He was best known for his versatility and put Italian National volleyball on the map.
Bernardi remained a great player in his late 30s and continues to have an impact on the sport as a coach.
He has coached multiple clubs in Italy, Poland, and Turkey.
- Olympic Silver (1996)
- World Champion (1990, 1994)
- FIVB World Cup Gold (1995)
6. Sheilla Tavares de Castro
Indoor Volleyball – Brazil – Born 1 July 1983
Sheilla Tavares represented Brazil as an opposite hitter on both of the country’s Olympic Gold medal teams, and she has garnered multiple MVP awards throughout her career.
Tavares de Castro took a short break from the sport to become a mother but has since returned to national and international play.
Thus, she has more time to become an even more famous volleyball player.
- Olympic Gold (2008, 2012)
- FIVB World Cup Silver (2007)
- Pan-American Cup Gold (2006, 2009, 2011)
7. Giba (Gilberto Godoy Fiho)
Indoor Volleyball – Brazil – Born 23 December 1976
Giba played outside hitter for the Brazilian National Team and other professional clubs despite his relatively small size (1.90m).
He was best known for his gritty style of play and remarkable vertical leap, making him one of the better “wings” in volleyball history.
Giba began international play in the mid-1990s, but his leadership and skill really began to show in the early 2000s.
Brazil went on a tear of success during this time and most point to Giba as one major reason why.
Giba would win the Brazilian Athlete of the Year award in 2006, which likely represented the climax of his career.
From there, Giba spent time on the Brazilian squad as it came close to but failed to win another Olympic Gold.
He retired from all play in 2014 at the age of 37.
- Olympic Gold (2004)
- World Champion (2002, 2006, 2010)
- World Cup Gold (2003, 2007)
- Pan-American Games Gold (2007)
8. Kim Yeon-Koung
Indoor Volleyball – South Korea – 1 July 1983
You may look at the lack of gold medals listed below and wonder why Kim Yeon-Koung made this list.
Her individual dominance is worthy of accolade and she has represented volleyball throughout Asia to the point of being one of the top ten most famous volleyball players.
Yeon-Koung has been playing volleyball since 4th grade and despite her slow physical growth, stuck with volleyball rather than switching to a different sport.
It was a good decision, as she ended up growing 20cm during her high school career.
Her performance at the high school level drew attention from national-level coaches.
She would begin playing for the national team shortly after finishing high school and was highly awarded in her first season as a professional club volleyball player.
While her South Korean national team came in fourth place at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Yeon-Koung was awarded MVP and Best Scorer due to her dominant individual performance.
Kim Yeon-Koung has built her notoriety in part by taking the time to develop a youth sports academy and founding multiple charities to benefit young athletes.
- Asian Games Gold (2014)
- Asian Championship Silver (2015)
- Asian Cup Silver (2014)
- Summer Olympics MVP (2012)
- Summer Olympics Best Scorer (2012)
9. Ricardo Lucarelli Souza
Indoor Volleyball – Brazil – 14 February 1992
This young Brazilian player is arguably still awaiting his best years of volleyball.
Ricardo Samuel Lucarelli Santos de Souza has won a ton of individual awards including MVP of the 2017 FIVB World Grand Champions Cup (resulting in Gold for Brazil) and the 2019 Brazilian Superliga volleyball league.
Many called the early to mid-2000s the golden era of Brazilian volleyball but it seems the country may be entering another period of dominance on the backs of high-quality players like Souza.
- Olympic Gold (2016)
- World Cup Gold (2019)
- FIVB World Grand Champions Cup Gold (2013, 2017)
10. Saeid Marouf
Indoor Volleyball – Iran – 23 September 1985
I can hear all the setters out there shouting...
“Where are the bona fide setters on this list?!”
Well, here you go...
This Iranian setter is one of the best of all time.
Marouf has received many individual awards including Best Setter and MVP at the 2013 Asian Championship, during which his team won gold.
Marouf continues to pursue his dreams of gold and is currently playing professional volleyball in China.
- World Grand Champions Cup Bronze (2017)
- Asian Championship Gold (2013, 2019)
- Asian Games Gold (2014, 2018)
- Asian Cup Gold (2008, 2010)